THE PHILLIES have had the equivalent of a revolving door at third base since Scott Rolen was shipped to St. Louis 10 years ago.
For the second time in his tenure as general manager, Ruben Amaro Jr. is turning to an older veteran who hasn't played third base recently to play the position. Just as with Placido Polanco, who was a second baseman in Detroit but won a Gold Glove in 2011 at third base with the Phils, Amaro doesn't seem to have any concerns about Michael Young making the transition to third.
Young, 36, who was introduced Tuesday at a news conference at Citizens Bank Park, hasn't played third base regularly since 2010.
"As far as Mike playing third base, we had enough historical information," Amaro said. "It wasn't that long ago when we had these kinds of questions about Placido Polanco. He had been playing second base at a very high level. I know Michael at various parts of his career has been a Gold Glove-caliber defender. For him to go back to third base, it's not a great concern of ours. We feel like he's going to be able to do that and handle it fine."
Young bounced around the infield in his 12-plus seasons in Texas, playing at least 150 games in a season at third base, shortstop and second base during his time with the Rangers. He won a Gold Glove at shortstop in 2008.
But after he was used primarily as a designated hitter in the last two seasons, there were questions whether he still has the ability to be an everyday infielder. Like Amaro, Young isn't concerned with the transition back to being an everyday position player.
"My time at third will be easier, because I can [dedicate] all my reps to third," said Young, who moved from third to DH when the Rangers signed Adrian Beltre in January 2011. "The toughest part of playing different spots is dividing your reps. Taking 25 percent of your balls at third because you have to go to short, second and first. I'm looking forward to that and getting down to Clearwater and getting a lot of reps under my belt."
Before fielding questions, Young was outfitted in his new, red-pinstriped, No. 10 jersey.
"This is the first time I've ever done one of these," Young said as he put on Phillies colors to the first time.
Young, a seven-time All-Star and career .301 hitter, had spent his entire major league career with Texas before waiving a no-trade clause to come to the Phillies earlier this month.
"I couldn't be more excited," Young said. "This is a team with a really strong history of winning over here the past five or six seasons. Great history and a great fanbase. A loud, intense and fun ballpark. All those things really appealed to me. When the trade was presented to me, I heard from Chase [Utley], I heard from Cliff [Lee], I heard from Laynce [Nix]. A lot of guys went out of their way to say hello and I appreciated that. I heard from Jimmy [Rollins] right when the trade went down. These are all guys I have past history and guys I felt very comfortable with. I knew this is a place I could fit in really well."
Lannan joins team
Before Young and Amaro met the media in a made-for-TV news conference on Tuesday, John Lannan made his own, quieter introduction to the Phillies organization. The veteran lefthander finalized a 1-year, $2.5 million contract that includes performance bonuses.
Lannan, 28, spent his whole career with the Washington Nationals before he was non-tendered and became a free agent this offseason. After being bounced out of the Nationals' rotation last season, spending most of the summer at Triple A, Lannan hopes to re-establish himself as a major league starter.
"It's a great opportunity," said Lannan, who is 42-52 with a 4.01 ERA and 134 career starts. "They welcomed me here in Philly with open arms and it's great for me and my family."
Lannan's agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, said the Phillies were an ideal fit.
"John made it clear to me at the beginning of this process that he valued opportunity above all else," Van Wagenen said. "It became clear that the Phillies were a unique fit for John to secure his spot in a rotation for a winning team . . . John sees this contract and situation as a springboard, both to reaffirming his status as a major league starter and to future earnings."
Although Lannan has pitched against the Phillies more than any other team in his career, he is most remembered by Philadelphia fans as the guy who broke Chase Utley's right hand. In his big-league debut, July 26, 2007, Lannan hit Utley with a pitch and the Phillies' All-Star second baseman missed a month.
"It was my debut. Emotions were running high," Lannan said. "It was 6 years ago . . . It's water under the bridge. I think they know I didn't mean to do it. Lefties, I've got to throw inside. I'm not going to blow people away. I have to pitch inside to good lefthanded hitters. That's what Utley and [Ryan] Howard are. I'm not going to miss over the plate, but I'm not trying to hit them. That's basically what it came down to."
Ruben Amaro Jr. said Roy Halladay has been working "pretty extensively" with Kyle Kendrick in Clearwater, Fla., in an effort to bounce back from an injury-plagued 2012 season.
"Doc's done very well," Amaro said. "He's going to start throwing off the mound here very shortly."
Halladay missed nearly 2 months in 2012 with a shoulder ailment. While the Phils have discussed retaining him, Halladay can become a free agent after the upcoming season.
Amaro also updated the status of Chase Utley, who has sat out each of the last two spring trainings, and most of the first two halves, with knee problems. The GM used the words "cautiously optimistic" regarding his hope for Utley returning to regular, full-time play in 2013.
"He's taking ground balls pretty much every other day," Amaro said. "He didn't take a whole lot of time off. One of the things I think we've all learned, including Chase, that it probably behooved him to continue to work and do things to be able to keep his joints going, keep his knees going. He's actually done very well."